Finally… Another Night Out!

The weather gods (Cindy informs me that we do not believe in weather gods, which I understand to be the case, but refuse to remove the phrase due to its rhetorical effect) have certainly been against me for the past few weeks. It seems that every day I work, the weather is nice and sunny, and every day I’m off, it’s cold or rainy, or both! With the promise of a good day today, Cindy and I decided to go out yesterday to spend the evening on the hook at DeSoto Point. Yesterday was not pleasant. The temperature was in the 60s with a brisk northwest wind dancing over the water turning the tips of the wave crests snowy white.

Cindy piloting the ship out of our marina

Cindy piloting the ship out of our marina

A crazed windsurfer out on the River on a cold day (but lots of wind)

A crazed windsurfer out on the River on a cold day (but lots of wind)

But, we have not actually had the boat out for a leisure trip in weeks! When your sailing home sits in the marina and you’re working quite a bit, it’s easy to forget the pleasure which comes from being out on the water. Just an overnight away has rekindled the desire for cruising and reminded us of the delights of doing so.

We started off our day in church, had a nice lunch at Olive Garden, stopped by Publix for provisions,and left Regatta Pointe about 3:30 in the afternoon. It was an hour trip into the teeth of the wind down the Manatee River. All thoughts of wandering out into the Bay for a little sailing quickly vanished as we were chilled by uncharacteristic late March temperatures. We decided just to turn into DeSoto Point at the mouth of the river and drop our oversized anchor securely into the muddy bottom and let out about 50 feet of scope. No second guessing this time – we felt secure all evening even with the chop and wind.

Relaxing and reading an ebook in the Salon at Anchor

Relaxing and reading an ebook in the Salon at Anchor

The colors of the Sunset

The colors of the Sunset

It is wonderful how much more relaxing it is to spend the night on your boat at anchor as compared to tied to a dock in your marina. We had a little homemade guacamole for dinner and enjoyed a beautiful sunset (although I had to keep running back inside to warm my hands due to my Raynaud’s). We then had a movie night on the water, watching Gravity and an oldie, Somewhere in Time. We thoroughly enjoyed them both.

Sunset over DeSoto Point

Sunset over DeSoto Point

We awoke this morning and had breakfast and did our Lenten devotions prior to taking the dinghy across the river to Emerson Point Reserve. We had driven to the reserve several months ago and noticed that there was a dinghy dock across from DeSoto Point at that time. Today, we went in search of the dock. Once we found it, we tied up and hiked through the beautiful trails and over the American Indian Temple Mound at the reserve. We then made our way back to the boat and enjoyed the five mile journey back down the Manatee at about one-half our usual speed. Today was glorious with bright sunshine and temperatures in the upper 70s.

The dinghy dock at Emerson Point Reserve

The dinghy dock at Emerson Point Reserve

Posing on our walk

Posing on our walk

This interestingly colored lizard straddling the sign

This interestingly colored lizard straddling the sign

A blue heron

A blue heron

An overhanging tree on the trail

An overhanging tree on the trail

The foliage frames the Sunset Skyway Bridge

The foliage frames the Sunset Skyway Bridge

Multi-colored Flowers by the trail

Multi-colored Flowers by the trail

Yellow on Green

Yellow on Green

A Splash of Red

A Splash of Red

A photo-stop on the trail

A photo-stop on the trail

One of the many cool tress

One of the many cool tress

We are now secured back at the dock and preparing for a nice dinner of grilled tilapia, green beans and rice. Tomorrow it is back to work with the promise of many more days of enjoyment in the not-so-distant future.

The derelict Caroline C with Beatitude to left across the river

The derelict Caroline C with Beatitude to left across the river

Beatitude at Anchor

Beatitude at Anchor

Security onboard Beatitude

Do you have a gun? This is invariably one of the most frequent-asked questions once a person becomes aware of our cruising plans. I must say that most of our friends think we should carry a gun onboard for defense purposes, and some are even incredulous that we are not planning to do so.

Why don’t we? Well, there are a number of reasons. First of all, I’ve never had a gun on land for protection, so I don’t see any compelling need to buy one now. I have no scruples about having a gun for protection. I am all in favor of the rights to own guns for self-protection. I’ve just never desired to have one for myself. The cruising life is at least as safe as living a land based life when it comes to crime.

What about Pirates?! Well, first of all we are not planning on frequenting pirate infested waters. The cruising community is quite aware of the areas in which piracy is a concern (and there are very few). On the miniscule chance I am attacked by pirates, I don’t thing me and my handgun will provide adequate firepower to confront several well-armed pirates. (If you’ve seen Captain Phillips you’ll understand.) I’m not sure a gunbattle would end in my favor.

What about protection from an intruder? Well, when I will need protection from an intruder most, I likely would not be able to have my gun. Out on the open water, intruders are of little concern. In port, in foreign countries, they may be, but… upon entering any foreign country, one must surrender his guns and ammunition upon checking in. To conceal them from authorities may result in sitting in some damp, rat-infested third world jail for a long time. No, thanks!

Having said all that, we are taking some steps to secure our safety while cruising. I’ve just bought a wireless motion-sensing alarm system that makes an ear-piercing scream when triggered. This will hopefully scare off any intruders before I would have to deal with them. If not… plan B!

Our motion-sensing security system.

Our motion-sensing security system.

Several months ago, we purchased a taser which fires from a range of up to 15 feet and may also be used up close to disable an attacker. Their is a red laser which shines on the intruder to assist the aim. The probes will deliver 5000 volts of electricity that will disable the intruder/attacker long enough to either get away or take secondary steps.

Ready to disable the intruder.

Ready to disable the intruder.

I don't want to be on this end of the firing!

I don’t want to be on this end of the firing!

The practice target is about 8-10 feet away.

The practice target is about 8-10 feet away.

Although difficult to see, Cindy aimed a little to high, placing one of the probes in the forehead and one in the chest.  This would disable the attacker, but ideally one would rather not put a probe through the eye.  The upper probe should be placed in the upper chest.

Although difficult to see, Cindy aimed a little to high, placing one of the probes in the forehead and one in the chest. This would disable the attacker, but ideally one would rather not put a probe through the eye. The upper probe should be placed in the upper chest.

The two prongs which will disable the intruder.

The two prongs which will disable the intruder.

Taser in holster.

Taser in holster.

Secondary steps may involve such things as several home run swings with my baseball bat.

My bat from Braves fantasy camp a few years ago, made by Javy Lopez's company.

My bat from Braves fantasy camp a few years ago, made by Javy Lopez’s company.

Batter up!

Batter up!

Here is a video of Cindy practicing with our C2 Taser gun.

My cruising future is not clouded with fear for our safety. We are taking what I believe are prudent steps to protect ourselves as we enjoy our adventures. We’ll be cautious, but won’t let fear paralyze us and our enjoyment of God’s great creation.

Preparations Intensify

The weeks are ticking by until we stop being just “liveaboards” and start our future as “cruisers.” The next few months will be busy getting everything ready to go. Several things were accomplished this past week.

Accomplishment #1: Setting up our mail service. One of the problems which face cruisers is how do we receive mail and how do we satisfy Uncle Sam’s requirement that we have an actual address which is our place of permanent residence. Fortunately, we are not the first cruisers on earth. There are a variety of options available, but we chose to go with St. Brendan’s Isle, a mail service right here in Florida. We are now official residents of Green Cove Springs, Florida. Gradually, we will transition all our mail to go there instead of here in Palmetto. As a Christian cruiser, it’s pretty cool to say you live on St. Brendan’s Isle! Onboard, we have an icon of St. Brendan “the Navigator,” a 6th century monk who is one of the “Twelve Apostles of Ireland.”

St. Brendan "The Navigator" aboard Beatitude

St. Brendan “The Navigator” aboard Beatitude

Accomplishment #2: Registering and Servicing our EPIRB. An Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon or EPIRB is used to alert search and rescue services in the event of an emergency.It does this by transmitting a coded message on the 406 MHz distress frequency via satellite and earth stations to the nearest rescue co-ordination centre. It can be manually triggered or will trigger automatically when in water. This is perhaps the most important piece of safety equipment on board. To register our EPIRB, we first of all had to get it “unregistered” from the previous owner of Beatitude. The NOAA people were so helpful and courteous in accomplishing this task. Today, I officially registered the EPIRB with our name and the name of our vessel. I also dropped it off at a Satellite Phone Store in Sarasota which services these. The battery is good for five years, and ours had been expired for a couple of years. With some serious cruising coming up, it was time to get the battery replaced and the EPIRB in working conditions. It will be ready in about three days.

Our EPIRB

Our EPIRB

The EPIRB strapped in its usual location in the salon

The EPIRB strapped in its usual location in the salon

Accomplishment #3: Cleaning out and “de-mildewing” the forward port locker. I’ve had our storm anchor, a 45 lb. Brittany, and an extra anchor, a 55 lb. Delta in this locker. It also has contained some extra lines, our gennaker and my scuba equipment. For some reason, and unfortunately, this locker has been full of mold and mildew. Also unfortunately, everything in the locker stinks of fungal contamination! Today, I took everything out, scrubbed the inside of this 7 foot deep locker, cleaned as best I could the components stored in the locker, threw out the old wood shelves and replaced them with newly cut shelves, and am now airing everything out. Quite a chore, but was way overdue.

The contents of the locker  spread over the foredeck

The contents of the locker spread over the foredeck

A look down into the mildewed locker

A look down into the mildewed locker

Down in the locker cleaning with "MaryKate Mildew Stain Remover," highly recommended by Practical Sailor

Down in the locker cleaning with “MaryKate Mildew Stain Remover,” highly recommended by Practical Sailor

Cindy standing by to assist

Cindy standing by to assist

Cutting new shelves

Cutting new shelves

Ready to lower our storm anchor into the newly cleaned locker

Ready to lower our storm anchor into the newly cleaned locker

Cindy, lowering our 55 lb Delta  into the locker

Cindy, lowering our 55 lb Delta into the locker

Accomplishment #4: Weight loss. Not only have we been busy trying to get Beatitude ready to cruise, for the past 30 days we have been working on ourselves as well. Cindy and I have been on Juice Fast for the past 30 days and have each lost over 15 pounds. We have been pretty strict in our adherence to the fast, but we have allowed eating raw fruits and vegetables and some nuts. It’s now been a month since either of us has had anything cooked, any kind of meat or seafood, and any kind of bread or starch. It’s also been a month since I’ve had soda, and if you know me you know I love diet soda. We’re feeling fitter and in better shape. We’ll continue doing this for a while yet and hopefully control our portions in the future.

Cindy, cleaning up my sawdust  (Thank you!)

Cindy, cleaning up my sawdust (Thank you!)

Installing our new shelving

Installing our new shelving

Enough accomplishments for one post, but more to come!